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Wine Software

Intelligent Debate About WINE Licensing 33

Dr. Spork writes "If you want to read a discussion about OSS licenses that is not a flame war, check out this week's Wine Weekly News. Among the highlights are Gavriel State's arguments for keeping WINE on a BSD-style license. His company has been criticized for not releasing some very cool D3D code. He claims one reason is because 'there are companies out there who will benefit significantly from commercial use of this code, and who can afford to sponsor a portion of the development cost. Until such a sponsorship happens, we cannot apply the WineHQ license to that code.' GNU purists might think it's in bad taste to use the code as a hostage, but in a world where many rich companies rely on OSS, perhaps this signals the emergence of a new business model. You might call it 'code brokering,' and interestingly, you can't do it with the GPL."
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Intelligent Debate About WINE Licensing

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  • Fucking Bullshit (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    With GPL code you can dual license (and do 'code brokerage'). So a company could develop a proprietary version of your GPL program and pay you to not have it under the GPL. Their changes and your code would then go under a highly restrictive license that all closed source programs are sold with.

    The only problem is that many GPL programs have many authors, so the company has to invest a lot of time to get aggrements with them all (maybe it would be smart for some projects to create some way to simplify this).

    BSD code, on the other hand, is just take, take, take. Make no mistakes about it, the authors get nothing (well, they get screwed, i guess that's something).

    • Those "others" may very well be other open source companies. For instance, I'm sure they're getting something from Mandrake for their gaming edition; if their stuff was more liberally licensed, Mandrake (and any other distro) wouldn't have to pay them a cent. There's also at least one other business built on Wine, and all their stuff could get merged into their competitors' code. I don't like their approach, but it does make sense if they want to actually even hope to make money. Lets just hope that when they crash and burn they don't take their code with them.
    • I think that one thing to look at is who holds the rights to GPL code?

      Let's say, hypothetically, that I write a functional app, X, and relase it under the GPL. Regardless of the GPL, it's still MY project, and MY application.

      Now, let's say you fix a bug in it and send me a patch... in an email like 'Hey.. I fixed such-and-such a bug, here's the code if you want to include it in your tree'.
      See the problem? You aren't licensing your code to me under the GPL.. you just gave me a patch, freely, and told me I can 'have' it. So I put it in my software... and again, release an updated version under GPL.

      Now compay Z comes along and wants to talk exclusive deal with me for my code, because they don't want to use GPL. I am still 100% free to negotiate with them; I don't have to share anything with you, or even include you in the discussion. It's still my project, and I am not bound by the terms of the GPL.
      However.. had you released your patch to me as an updated, GPL version of the code instead of just sending me a patch and saying 'here you go', it would be a different story (or if you just released the patch clearly stating it was under GPL.)

      This is something we often don't think about or look at in GPL.. we sort of assume that anyone who contributes anything becomes a co-author.. but that's not necessarily true at all.

      Remember, there's more to it than just GPL...
      GPL only says what rights you have to use someone elses code.. ownership of additions to your average OSS project is something that needs to be dealt with above and beyond that.
      • But from my perception of this [gnu.org] (GPL faq) page, this scenario is highly unlikey to happen. Some pieces of it:

        First One [gnu.org]:

        Can the developer of a program who distributed it under the GPL later license it to another party for exclusive use?

        No, because the public already has the right to use the program under the GPL, and this right cannot be withdrawn.

        Second one: [gnu.org]

        Consider this situation:

        X releases V1 of a project under the GPL.
        Y contributes to the development of V2 with changes and new code based on V1.
        X wants to convert V2 to a non-GPL license.

        Does X need Y's permission?

        Yes. Y was required to release its version under the GNU GPL, as a consequence of basing it on X's version V1. Nothing required Y to agree to any other license for its code. Therefore, X must get Y's permission before releasing that code under another license.
        • 1) Notice it says "Can the developer of a program who distributed it under the GPL later license it to another party for exclusive use?" - there's nothing wrong with licensing it to another party for non-exclusive use. Look at the license on Cygnus Solutions' Cygwin DLL, which provides glue code to emulate a sensible Unix environment on Windows. Cygnus (now owned by Red Hat) dual-licenses it - the first is GPL (with extra permission to link to any OSI-approved open source software) and is free (as in free beer), the second is closed (but you can legally link it to a non-free app) and costs money. Borland are doing this too, with Kylix - the free (beer) downloadable version comes with GPLed runtimes, so you can only legally compile GPLed software on it, but the commercial version comes with the same libraries under Borland's usual "once you've paid us, you can link it to anything" licensing. 2) I suspect this is dodgy ground legally, and depends where X and Y live. If Y sends a few lines of diffs, they're probably not significant enough to be covered by copyright (your laws may vary). If Y explicitly puts their contributions in the public domain, X can claim it as their own and do what they like with it (that's what public domain means). If Y explicitly signs over copyright on their contributions (like the FSF requires on contributions to GNU code), X now owns it and can do what they like. Otherwise, X could probably argue that Y had implicitly given them permission to use their contributions... I think your quote is probably right in this case, but it seems like dodgy legal ground, and IANAL.
        • Good points.. and these are both, in typical Gnu fashion, misleading statements (no, this is not a flame, it's the truth).

          Because the GPL does not permit me to revoke the rights it grants, I obviously cannot grant someone *exclusive* use if the code, because it's not within my power to revoke the GPL rights I've granted others.
          Actually, I *CAN* strike a contract with someone for exclusive use, but I'll end up in court with them because I can't deliver that. Writing this contract, however, is not a violation of the GPL, though it's definately doing a contract in bad faith, etc, etc.

          The point is, I am still free to license it to others under whatever terms I want. (I could even license it to them for exclusive use, but that might land me in court, becuase I can't deliver exclusivity)

          It would be more plain to say "You can license it under any terms you want to anyone, you are still the owner, but you cannot revoke the rights granted to others via GPL.

          As for the second statement:
          Read the fine print there...It is making assumptions about what transpired and how.

          They are assuming that Y released his v2 code under GPL... and therefore, if X puts it in HIS version, he now has to follow the GPL.

          However, if Y simply submits a patch to X saying 'here's a bugfix dude' it's a different story. See the point?

          I'm not saying that X owns all submitted code by default.. just that it's not as black and white as the GPL FAQ makes it out to be.

          PRetend I had a license that didn't stipulate either way.. say you just saw my code as my buddy, worked on it, and submitted a small bugfix to me. Are you now a co-author? No. It's still my code.
          If you wrote half of it... then we would obviously discuss who owned what.
          The problem with OSS Projects is nobody acutally discusses the terms of code submission into the project, and poeple submitting code often forget to 'license' their code back to the project.

          Remember.. this FAQ is not a real legal opinion.. .companies have used this sort of 'hole'in the GPL model to their advantage before, and succeeded (I really, really wish I could cite the example, it was on /. a year ago about.. but I really can't remember.. I'm sorry. I'm not making this up)
    • I love Slashdot - here we have an article that starts off with "If you want to read an intelligent article that doesn't end in a flamewar, read *blah*." And the first post on this article? Title: "Fucking Bullshit." Seems pretty clear that if we didn't want flamewars, we wouldn't read Slashdot. :)

      I don't know whether to laugh or to cry about this...hehehehe
    • You're technically right but this is totally irrelevant to any major GPL projects, because there is no hope at all of negotiating with "the author". For example, let's say I rewrote virtual memory management in Linux and wanted to release it as binary-only. There would be no way to track down all the people whose code appears in Linux, and I'd have to buy out all of them if I wanted Linux relicensed to make my binary-only distribution legal.

      Also, the following Transgaming strategy would be illegal for GPL or LGPL software: Write some fancy and useful code release it as binary for people to get hooked on, and do a telethon to raise money before the source is made public. The licenses would instead force you to make all your modifications public.

      I actually think this is a great system: the code gets written (not just "promised" a la Ximian), the authors get compensation based on the market value of the code, but the code is still free, there for anyone to use. I honestly haven't seen a better revenue model for a company that writes OSS.

      • Actually, I should have been more clear: you can do code brokering if you are the author of a new application. If instead you write code to improve an existing application, code brokering would be illegal under the GPL unless you managed to get the original application relicensed (which would be an insane task given that all you're after is improving the OSS application and maybe getting a few bucks for your trouble).
  • I can understand to some extent that companies would be reluctant to build onto a platform where they are compelled to release their code, but the point of the GPL/LGPL is to coerce reluctant coders that source code availability is a good thing.

    Bad code is still code, it can still be improved and built on, it's better than no code.

    Especially as wine has become quite strong in this area I don't think vendors will *not* use wine in favour of going it alone. And as the wine APIs become more mature, the requirement for vendors to modify wine itself is reduced.

    For these reasons, I think the decision not to use the LGPL is regrettable.

    If a company with closed-source modifications dies, they will probably not be released, because they will make up part of the assets of the company. If this happened to large extension projects it would be detrimental to wine and the Linux community.

  • I can honestly see the need for them to keep the code under BSD style licensing. The code is still available for all to see and audit, but to release it without restriction would immediately see big companies making profit off the hard work of volunteer developers.

    No one wants someone else to stand by, yawn, and then profit from their sweat and tears.
    • Isn't the problem more about choosing between keeping a BSD-style license and restricting it to a GPL-like one ? Anyway, I don't see your point : why would suppressing all licensing on the code allow "big companies" to make "profit off the hard work of volunteer developers" ? Note that BSD-style licenses don't prohibit this ; and GPL-like neither !

      The main difference between them, if I understand correctly, is about the contribution of modified parts of the code back to the main source. A BSD-like license doesn't enforce this (which explains the quoted coder's explanation of his company's behaviour) where the GPL makes illegal to distribute a modified code without giving its source to the people who you gave the binaries to.

      In either case, note that all of this has nothing to do with money : as an exemple, with a GPL source you aren't even allowed to give a modified version of the code and to keep its source.
  • GNU purists might think it's in bad taste to use the code as a hostage

    Am I reading this right? I thought the entire *point* of the GPL was that it holds code hostage... the code owned by anyone who wants to link to GPL libraries.
    • The point of the GPL is to prevent *hoarding* of code, in order to guarantee everyone who has a use for the code certain freedoms to use it.

      IMHO it's a shame that this inevitably leads to license conflicts with other kinds of free software. But there is no way to prevent hoarding without also preventing some other uses. Ah well.

  • Okay, so Wine is the perfect case example of why I think the GPL is, perhaps, the best open source licence (certainly the best for Linux itself).

    Before you flame me, note I conditionalized the above as my opinion, not fact. And then read below for my explanation of that opinion.

    Hypothetical case 1: Abel writes 'the killer open source app' and releases it under the GPL. Doug's company has been working on the same concept, but because their product will be closed source they can't use Abel's code in it.

    Hypothetical case 2: Bob comes up with a 'killer open source app' and releases it under the BSD licence- but his idea isn't completed yet. The company Charlie works at has been struggling to write a similar app, and Bob's source will fit the bill. Charlie uses it to finish his company's app, which then goes to market as a closed source app. Bob can't do anything, because the BSD licence doesn't require source to remain open.

    Which is fairer? To me, the answer is clear. When I contribute code to an open source project, I am trying to produce a benefit for the whole world, not just a few people who want to get cheap code. By not forcing the code to remain free, you devalue that difference.
    • by leuk_he ( 194174 )
      As long you keep in mind that what you think is an opinion.

      Hypothetical case 3: Bob comes up with a 'killer open source app' and releases it under the GPL licence- but his idea isn't completed yet. The company Charlie works at has been struggling to write a similar app, and Bob's source will fit the bill. Charlie uses it to create his company's app, which then goes to market. Bob picks up the last needed sources to complete his package and creates a package that is included in a popular distribution. Charlie will sell very little media with the software on it, even though they spend a lot of time testing and fine-tuning the app. But since their verions is 95% identical to the free version no one buys it and the R&D department of Company charlie is "written off". bye bye charlie, get a new job.
    • Case 4 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @12:29PM (#2823628)
      Bob has a killer open source app, released under GPL, but it's not quite done.

      Charlie's company is struggling for a simliar app, but is having trouble. Charlie discovere's Bob's project.

      Charlie has his lawyers contact Bob to negotiate private licencing of the relevant code. Bob gets rich, Charlie's company prospers.

      As for 'which is fairer'... I'm sorry, that totally depends on your personal wants and needs.
      Those who willingly release under the BSD licence *KNOW* that a business can take their code and use it, proprietary, without them seeing a dime. I'm sure you won't find people who chose the BSD style license whining about 'not getting paid'

      That's what I don't get about these stupid licencing arguments. It's all about what the copyright holder wants to do.. period.
  • GPL isn't free (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nodrip ( 459776 )
    There are people out there who think -

    - I want to release this code into the public domain to promote it as a standard, help other people etc.

    There are people out there who think -

    - I want to release this code into the semi-public domain in an effort to help people and force my political beliefs on them.

    The first choose a "free software license", the second choose the GPL.

    I choose free software and accept that companies can use it for commercial purposes. My point in releasing it was not to make money off of it or forward my political beliefs.

    Which one are you? I'll give you a hint, Stallman is #2)

    If whine want's to keep some code proprietary to protect their business while still promoting an open standard with a workable code base, that's just fine with me. If the standard grows in popularity you end up with an open standard backed up by a successful company. This works.
    See www.opengl.org for a good example.
    • The "free software license", as you call it, is great for the "takers" out there. Microsoft and Apple can both release products containing BSD code and never give anything back to the BSD projects.

      Any company out there releasing a project based on a GPL licensed source must give release any improvements (or any changes) back to the public.

      So when you purchase OS X or Windows 2000, give some consideration to which license is really free and which one is a nice way to donate to the rich.
      • The "free software license", as you call it, is great for the "takers" out there.

        Code can not be taken. If I have one apple and you take it I don't have an apple anymore. But if I have free software and you "take" it, then we BOTH both free software.

        Consider the case of the Magic Apple(tm). This apple can be taken, and taken, and taken, but it still remains. I have one Magic Apple(tm). You "take" it. Now you have an apple and I have an apple. You take your apple and make an apple pie and sell it for $5. Did you take an apple pie from me? No. Did you take $5 from me? No. Have I lost anything at all? No.

        Unrestricted software (BSD/MIT/etc) is that Magic Apple(tm). Take all you want because the original will still be there unchanged.
        • The apple analogy doesn't quite hold up.

          Say I build a carburetor that gets 75 miles per gallon and I license it using a free style license.

          Now Ford installs it in all their new models except they've made some additional modifications so it is now a 100 mile per gallon carburetor.

          Under the Magic Apple/ Free Software/ BSD/etc license we're all still stuck using the 75 mpg version even though I contributed to the 100 mpg version.

          Under the GPL style license Ford will be required to release their improvements back to benefit the rest of us.

          I'm not into releasing free code just so someone can take it and improve their product and not give anything back.
  • by Deagol ( 323173 ) on Friday January 11, 2002 @02:00PM (#2824307) Homepage
    While I highly regard the wine crew and their accomplishments, I have to wonder... why bother?

    I consider myself a hard-core Lilnux weenie. I don't balk at compiling and configuring software on Llinux. However, I've never had a satisfactory experience with wine in the last 8+ years.

    My home and work machines both run Linux 100% of the time. For the 0.001% of things I just can't accomplish, I run an old copy of Win95 under VMWare. The only things I can't find OSS equivalents are TurboTax (too lazy to do by hand, too cheap to hire a CPA, and too complex to do over the web), and M$ Streets 2001.

    No, I don't play games I can't find on Linux. I don't game much wanyway, so I don't suffer. I've taken to chess lately, so I get by with xboard/crafty. :)

    I'd much rather see money/resources go into plex86 so I can ditch VMWare (which has far more cool uses than running Windows, anyway), than wine,

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel